Saw this secret on Postsecret this week, and felt the type of empathy that only comes from experience. This took me back to when I was a graduate student at the University of Alabama and I made the (brave, hard, scary, intimidating) decision to report the supervisor who I was interning for regarding him being inappropriate towards me. It pains me soooo much to read this secret; because I too lost friends and was portrayed as the asshole, and not only did he get to keep his job while I was shuffled out in a quiet shame, but they replaced me with ANOTHER female intern(!). I am sad about this secret because the person who wrote it says coming forward wasn’t worth it, but I say IT WAS WORTH IT (all the while completely understanding why this person could come to the conclusion that it wasn’t).

Which completely SUCKS that this is still so true.

It sucks that a lot of these men get to keep their jobs, while we are pushed out and seen as “troublemakers” or are shunned for standing up for ourselves. Yet, this seems to happen again and again. It was worth it for so many reasons: because I BY FAR was not the only intern that was being sexually harassed, just the only one who reported it that year. Initially, a lot of other girls were inspired and they wanted to report their harassment too, but when they saw the way I was treated by the University and the place I was interning for, they saw the risk and chose not to come forward. It did give them the peace of mind and courage to speak to the person harassing them though, and many of them did and threatened to report if they didn’t stop. Some persons did stop, some didn’t, but many of the girls said “thank you for taking the first step” anyway.

This culture, esp. with the new President, is still not kind towards women who are trying to find safety in the workplace; but we MUST continue to stand up for ourselves and report when we are being harassed or threatened! Even if we are so backwards that we lose friends, we are seen as an “asshole” and “troublemaker” and any other number of unkind labels that are simply not true. Even when he gets to keep his job. Even when they tell you to leave the internship or the job under the guise of “being sick” or even being fired.

We have to keep reporting and defending ourselves, because we are worth it, and we must fight for change.